The annual Valley Parade Memorial Tournament to remember the 56 football fans who lost their lives in the Bradford City fire disaster 30 years ago will take place this weekend.
The tournament, which will be held at Marley Activities and Coaching Centre over the Easter weekend (April 4 and 5), commemorates the tragic events of May 11, 1985, which claimed the lives of 54 Bradford City supporters and two from Lincoln City, who Bradford were playing that day.
Steve Hartley, Bradford Council’s interim strategic director for environment and sport, said: “This annual tournament helps to preserve the memory of those who died and to reflect on what happened that day, and also lets us celebrate our future footballers. Many of the children who have taken part have gone on to play football professionally with some even being called up to play for their country.
“Even though the tournament was born out of tragedy it still shows how much sport can bring people together even 30 years on.”
The Deputy Lord Mayor of Bradford, Councillor Roger L’Amie and the Deputy Lady Mayoress Liz Smith, will be at the tournament to watch teams from across the Bradford district, Lincoln and the German city of Hamm compete for trophies.
Over 320 youngsters will take part as part of 20 junior teams. There will also be a veterans’ game, which will see City of Bradford Veterans take on the Prison Officers’ Association Veterans.
There will be a further two exhibition matches, involving Bradford City Supporters playing Liverpool supporters and Bradford City Disability Football Club taking on Liverpool Disability Football Club.
The memorial tournament was created by former Bradford Council chief recreation officer Howell Williams and has been held annually since 1986.
The organisation of the event was taken over by Carl Dalton, manager of Bradford Council’s Community Play and Activities Development Unit, in 2000. Carl, a lifelong Bradford City fan, who was in the main stand on the day, has been instrumental in this ‘friendship through football event’, which is growing each year.
Since the event began in 1986 over 12,000 participants have taken part in the tournament organised by Bradford Council’s Sport and Leisure Service and sponsored by the Prison Officers’ Association.